As I sit down to write this piece my birthday is only a few hours away. And a week later we’ll all be ringing in the New Year. The beginning of a new decade. This is usually the time I spend setting resolutions for the New Year. Resolutions, to be totally honest, I usually end up breaking before the month of January has ended.
But not this year. I’ve decided not to make resolutions for 2020. Instead, I started making lifestyle changes months ago. Changes that will carry over to 2020 and beyond. I have spent most of my time reviewing not only this past year but my life this past decade. Things that have worked for me; what have not and what do I need to do to make this new decade bigger and better.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to see this decade end. It has kicked my butt thoroughly. I started the decade still mourning the loss of my grandparents and my sister. And during the decade I lost my aunt who helped raise me and my husband who always made me feel well loved. Without those steady people in my life I spent most of the decade feeling abandoned, alone and unloved. (Not that I was alone and unloved, but that’s how I felt at times.) I did, however, gain two wonderful daughters-in-law and two amazing grandchildren who are the light of my life.
But in general, I spent most of this past decade in a state of sadness and in a pit of darkness. A pit so deep and dark I thought I’d never come out. And for a while that’s where I wanted to stay. In the beginning I stayed in my self-absorbed cave fueled by wine and food. As time went on I would get out but kept going back and forth; in and out of the darkness. In and out of the cave. I even entered unhealthy relationships and found myself in dangerous situations. I knew I couldn’t continue going down this dark path. It was time to make a change.
So this past year I found myself on a journey. A journey of self-discovery. I was “forced” to take a deep dive into who I was and what made me tick. I looked at why I kept going in and out of the darkness. What was I trying to avoid? Yes, there was grief. A lot of it. But it went beyond the grief. In addition to feeling abandoned, unloved and alone, I also felt unworthy, out of control and in general, broken into a million pieces. Why? Yes, there were reasons. Yes, there were people and circumstances I could have blamed. But that was too easy. I had to take responsibility for my actions. I had to find a way to get out of the darkness permanently. I spent a lot of time in prayer, self-reflection and meditation. Eventually I even got professional help. There I was made to look at a mirror (so to speak) and see who this person was looking back at me. The good and the bad. The dark and the light.
What was I hiding from? What triggered me to feel so horrible about myself that I continuously set myself up to fail? What positive action could I make when I was triggered? And what could I do to prevent being triggered all together? I have learned and am still learning the answers to these questions and much more.
This past year I have learned many things like what do I REALLY want in life? I am learning that I don’t always have to have myself, others and circumstances under complete control. I am learning that being alone does not equal loneliness. I am learning that I am worthy to be loved. And I don’t have to look to others to find my worthiness or fill the void with unhealthy circumstances. I have learned to forgive those who have hurt me or disappointed me. I am learning that even though I forgive them, I don’t have to have them in my life. I can still love them from a distance. I am learning not to feel guilty from decisions I have made (and are making). I have learned that in this stage of my life it’s OK to put myself first. I am learning that not everyone will like or care what I have to say or how I say it but I have the right to say it anyway. I am learning that those who do not like me have their own issues that have nothing to do with me. I am learning that I can’t save everyone. I am learning what positive things make me feel good and to avoid what doesn’t, like toxic relationships. I am learning to depend on myself more rather than lean on others who have busy lives of their own. I am learning how to say “no”. I am learning that not every smiling face is a friend and that I need to trust my intuition more often. I am lea